DANCE / Richard Alston bounces back
Sunday 27 November 1994
Eight of the nine dancers are from London Contemporary Dance Theatre, disbanded last year. And they make a fine-looking team - the women elfin-pert and pretty, the men dead ringers for a Haagen-Dazs commercial. This may seem irrelevant, but uniform good looks are not a given in modern dance. These dancers mesmerise us, and apparently each other, with their loveliness. And Alston plays on this. At least two of the four new works presented focus on the couple, which, for Alston, is resolutely heterosexual. On stage, that's something of a rarity these days.
In Shadow Realm, set to a shivery score by Simon Holt (played beautifully on stage by cello, harp and clarinet), the relationship is out of kilter. The woman clings, he cannot shake her off. Yet Leesa Phillips and Henri Oguike are not permanently at war: they engage, sensuously intertwine, and shadow each other's movements only inches apart, the phrasing coming in great, long, easeful breaths - a joy to behold. Yet by subtle means Alston lets us know that things are not right. The man needs his own space; she won't concede; a clarinet shriek propels her onto his broad back, clinging like some wizened homunculus. Yet they love each other still. Life is full of grey areas, and Alston has found a way of delivering them, brightly lit, to our gaze.
As much concerned with the music as with telling stories, Alston chooses and balances scores with care. Movements from Petrushka uses Stravinsky's sparkling piano transcription rather than the orchestral version, and avoids plot-detail to focus on the feelings of Fokine's original. The company are the villagers, hallooing and light-footing their way through the Russian Dance and carnival, taunting the outsider with their easy merriment; Darshan Singh Bhuller makes a darkly powerful Petrushka, a crouching ball of anguish that explodes like a nail-bomb into spiky, leaping shapes. With his sultry sexuality it is not fanciful to imagine Bhuller as a latter-day Nijinsky. He is certainly the company's hottest property.
While Alston seems at home with suffering (Lachrymae, set to Britten's haunting variations on the Dowland song, was a thing of truth and beauty) he also knows how to entertain. Something in the City bubbles along to the systems groove of the band Man Jumping, marrying balletic arabesques with a lop-sided disco hop to joyful, if not intentionally humorous, effect. Richard Alston is back, and he's back for good.
- The Place, WC1, 071-387 0031, until Sat; RNCM Manchester, 061-273 4504, 8-10 December; and touring.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding